By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
Much of this season was missing a familiar element: the capitvating greatness of Aaron Rodgers.
A broken collarbone sidelined Rodgers for a good portion of the campaign, and when Rodgers returned, it was for a failed last-ditch attempt to preserve playoff eligiblity. With Green Bay’s loss to Carolina went playoff hopes and the remainder of Rodgers’ season.
We study history so as to avoid repeating its mistakes. But history can also provide us with context clues, and it tells us Rodgers is pretty good in a season after suffering a broken collarbone. In 2014, after a similar injury and return (with the only difference being a playoff appearance), Rodgers led the Packers to a 12-4 run that appeared poised to finish in the Super Bowl before a stunning overtime loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship Game. Through that campaign, Rodgers earned himself his second Most Valuable Player award, completing 341 of 520 passes (65.6 percent) for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions. In terms of passer rating, it was the second-best season of his career (112.2), bested only by his first MVP campaign of 2011 (122.5).
With all of that information considered, is Rodgers heading toward another MVP season in 2018?
“I plan on doing that again,” he said of winning another MVP, per the team’s official site.
Despite Rodgers’ unhappiness with the departure of his quarterbacks coach, the deck is stacked in the signal-caller’s favor, thanks to two key occurrences in recent months: First, Green Bay locked up clear No. 1 receiver Davante Adams on a four-year, $58 million deal. Second, the Packers welcomed back offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who schemed for Rodgers during the aforementioned 2011 season.
Philbin eventually left Green Bay to take the head coaching gig with the Miami Dolphins, which didn’t go as planned. Before he left, though, he built quite the resume as Green Bay’s OC, which propelled his name into head coaching consideration. A year before Rodgers’ MVP season, Philbin was at the head of an offense that finished 10th in the league in points scored and ended up putting up 31 points in a Super Bowl XLV win over Pittsburgh.
“Joe and I were very close when he was with us the first stint,” Rodgers said. “He’s a fantastic guy, great coach. I’m excited to get back working with him. But again, change is hard in this business. It’s difficult when you lose not only friends that are teammates but friends that are coaches as well. The only constant you can count on in this game is it’s going to change every single year.”
Sappy, nameless farewell aside, this is a good development for Green Bay. As for the questions about Rodgers’ health, he put that to rest rather quickly.
“I’m feeling great,” Rodgers said regarding his surgically repaired collarbone. “I’m back to my workouts. I was playing golf on Wednesday out in Scottsdale in the pro-am, so if I can do that, you know I’m feeling pretty good.”
Good enough to win another MVP? We’ll see about that.